What are the Best Ways to Protect Gastrointestinal Health?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2018
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Protecting gastrointestinal health is not generally complicated. Many of the recommended prevention measures are matters of common sense and good practice. These include thorough washing of hands and food, and eating foods that are properly cooked.

In the United States, there are usually signs posted in restrooms that remind employees to wash their hands. One of the biggest enemies to gastrointestinal health is dirty hands. Many infections and viruses are spread when people do not wash their hands or when they do not wash them properly.

There is a common misconception that clean hands are most important when people work with food. It is true that people who work with food need to be especially careful, but it is important for everyone to wash their hands thoroughly. This is because people touch things that other people come into contact with, then often touch their faces or food. It is important for people to consider how often they touch shared items, such as doorknobs or railings, then eat before washing their hands.

Many gastrointestinal health problems also arise from food that has not been properly cleaned. Certain infections are linked to certain types of food. For example, salmonella is generally linked to eggs and poultry. Other foods however, can also be contaminated with salmonella. This is why people are cautioned to not use the same knives or cutting boards for raw meat as they use for vegetables and other foods.


Even when a person takes care to wash his food thoroughly, he also needs to store it properly and cook it completely. A person should avoid storing raw meats or seafood where they can come into contact with other food items. It is also important that food is stored at a proper temperature. Foods have danger zones, and if they are allowed to stand idle at those temperatures, they can make people very ill.

Undercooked meat and seafood can also result in a number of gastrointestinal health problems. For many people, rare meat and raw seafood are attractive. Eating these items, however, carries the risk of infections. There are cooking temperatures that should be reached for meats and seafood to ensure safety. These can easily be found in cookbooks or on the Internet, and checked with a simple kitchen thermometer.

Traveling can also pose threats to gastrointestinal health if people are not careful. In some places, the water has contents that natives are accustomed to. When a foreigner drinks that same water, he can become very sick and may even need to be hospitalized. It is very important to check whether or not a foreign destination has suitable drinking water before traveling.

Avoiding drinking water is not enough in places where the water is not suitable. A person should also usually avoid ice cubes, unless they have been made from bottled or treated water sources. It is also rather risky to eat certain uncooked foods in these places. Salads, for example, should be avoided when possible unless they are personally prepared. These items are generally washed with local water and are likely to still be partially wet when served.



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